Nearly a year ago, I wrote an article that discussed rehabbing injuries with kettlebell exercises. It was a topic that fascinated me at the time and one that I still find very intriguing. Apparently, I’m not the only person as it’s one of the more popular posts on this site. The research I did for the article concluded that not only can kettlebells help with injuries but pain management as well. This information wasn’t opinion-based or speculative but actually came from studies by doctors and physical therapists.
One of those Doctors, Dr. Ben Fung, has devoted much of his time helping others recover from injuries by using kettlebells. He’s written a thesis on the subject (published by the American College of Sports Medicine) and even developed his own protocol. I’ve scoured the internet looking for input from other Doctor’s but no one has gone into such detail as he. It’s been a long time coming, however, I finally worked up the nerve to contact him directly to learn more about his research.
Dr. Fung is a pretty busy guy these days but he still found time to answer my questions. It’s clear from his answers that he’s still as passionate about kettlebells as he was 10 years ago. It used to be thought that kettlebells were just a fad for the latest fitness trend. Now we’re learning that they offer many more benefits by improving mobility, alleviating pain, and helping people of all ages with injury recovery. Check out my interview with Dr. Fung and his thoughts about kettlebell rehab below!
Dr. Ben Fung Interview
Let’s talk about your career change from a physical therapist to a keynote speaker & presenter. What’s been the motivation behind this change and can you briefly the explain goals you hope to achieve?
It’s been 10 years since your thesis on kettlebell exercise has been published. Has anything changed since then on the subject? Do you still use kettlebells for your own personal health?
Back in 2010 you developed the Fung Protocol which includes 30 seconds of exercising followed by 30 seconds of rest for 6 kettlebell exercises repeated for 3 rounds. This appears similar to Tabata which has only recently gained popularity. How did you decide on those specific exercises and time duration?
Browsing through some of your older blog posts, I see you’ve come up with some creative kettlebell exercise activities. For example, the Partner Swing Relay and the Hot Potatoes. Are there any other unique kettlebell activities you’d like to share?
Dr. Fung performing a kettlebell windmill.
In regards to rehabbing an injury with kettlebells, I watched a testimonial of a former patient of yours who recovered quickly from a back injury. What’s been the biggest recovery you’ve witnessed thanks to kettlebell exercises and workouts?
Going back to the Fung Protocol, I’m curious how you came to the conclusion of limiting kettlebell weight to 13% or less of body weight to keep it a strictly aerobic workout. Does this account for obesity?
Many of your articles highlight the negative effects that gym machines have on the joints. Kettlebell exercises, on the other hand, hardly put any stress on the joints. Why is that?
All that said, the bioengineering colleague from undergraduate days that I consulted agreed that the angular momentum of most kettlebell activities move congruently with most of our joint mechanics as most of our joints are round and move in swinging fashions vs. the linear mechanics of gym machines. If memory serves, I believe there was a physical therapy based study on the shear forces at the lumbar spine with kettlebell swings which showed a restorative reverse shearing — something that is considered rehabilitative in nature to the low back.